A feminist perspective after watching Charlie Sheen’s interview. Multiple of his female partners have come forward and said that he did not inform them of his status, or implicitly lied to them about it (he told one, “I’m clean”) thereby depriving them of the right to make an informed consensual decision about having sex with him. This is WRONG.
While its great to have a conversation about the chronic status of HIV and how its not the “death sentence” that it once was, please remember that HIV drugs are still expensive for under & uninsured Americans, and virtually impossible to obtain in many developing countries. And any health epidemic effects women and children the most — we have the least resources to combat them. It has been pointed out to me that many people in the San Francisco Bay Area have access to HIV drugs like Truveda (the magic one pill a day) through government programs. Well, I distinctly recall when Gov S pulled back from such a program in mid-2000s, and only reinstated funding years later, bowing to political pressure. It should show any doubter how dodgy relying on discretionary health programs for your healthcare can be. Also, California is a bit of bubble when it comes to this issue — in other parts of the country, such programs may be even more limited, if not nonexistent.
It was also suggested that if none of the women he slept with actually have HIV, its a “no harm, no foul” situation. Again, this is simply wrong. Statements like that, and Sheen’s actions, are indicative of the macro and micro sexual threats and aggression that women suffer from daily in this country. “Sorry it was more important that I have sex with you the way I wanted it than to get your informed consent! Hey, don’t be mad!” If that happened to me, or a loved one of mine, I’d be so sad, confused, and depressed I’d need therapy — I’d probably get a form of PTSD, from learning how close I came to contracting a chronic disease, knowingly, through sex, from someone I trusted. Its not “nothing.” Its intentional infliction of emotional distress, perhaps sexual battery, and its morally wrong. It speaks volumes about how Charlie Sheen really viewed his “goddesses” — as animals to be experimented on or mere sexual automatons, without lives and a future worth considering. (PS — I don’t believe in experimenting on animals, either).
And finally, there is talk about how Sheen is combating stereotypes about who can get the disease. I don’t see how. He contracted it by through risky behaviors — drugs, unprotected sex, and promiscuity. Exactly the sort of behaviors that the public health community, including the LGBT community, have been trying to educate people away from, for years. There are no innocent victims and there are not guilty victims. I don’t blame him for how he got it — its a sad, predicable story. But the only example he is setting is as a cautionary tale. There are many HIV heroes out there. Sheen is not one of them.
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I’ve been asked to provide proof that his partners didn’t know. See below. He also apparently didn’t call Ms. Olson and Ms. Renly after he found out about his status, while admitting in his interview on Today that he doesn’t know how or when he contracted HIV, so he could have had it when he was living with them.
“Sheen admitted on the Today Show that he had had unprotected sex ‘twice’ and he arranged for the the women to see his doctor. … That account appears to be in question, however, with the unnamed porn star speaking out after both his former ‘godesses’, ex-girlfriends Bree Olson and Natalie Kenly, said he did not inform them of his status.”
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